Celebrating 12 Years – The Life of a Canadian Artist
July 1, 2019 marked my 12th year as a full-time professional visual artist. This past week I received an email from an art dealer in the Silicon Valley, their first question to me, “how long have you been an artist?” This is always a very strange question to an artist, as artists’ we have all been making art since we were children, and as such we have always considered ourselves artists.
This means, I have been an artist for over 40 years. My professional career, where I began showing and selling my work, began about 30 years ago, while still in high school. Over the past two decades, I have spent a considerable amount of time setting myself up as an independent self-representing artist. For many years I worked a side job, while producing artwork, mostly drawing. I began painting, seriously, about 18 years ago.
The past 12 years have been all about painting, exhibiting, traveling, and selling my art. Over the past 8 years I have worked hard at immersing myself deeply into the Canadian art communities of Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Toronto. I have created two collaborative projects, written for numerous Canadian publications and artist websites and have contributed to the Canadian Arts community through advocacy groups and on public art committees. I’ve visited a few art fairs, won a few awards and been paid to show my work. I have been commissioned to make work for corporations and private clients, and have licensed my work to many unique brands in Canada and the USA. As I head into my 13th year, I am reflecting on some works of the past.
Twelve paintings for 12 years. It was hard for me to pick twelve, as I have painted near 400 now. It was also more challenging to pick favourites as the years increased. I am finding I now have more favourites than I did in the beginning. Maybe it highlights consistency as an artist as my years of experience grow, or as my passion for painting deepens. You would think after 12 years of painting daily my interest would wain, but it is quite the opposite, the intensity and passion grow. Rather than focus on my accomplishments of the past twelve years, I want to focus on the personal side of my journey as an Artist, and how life and art are intertwined and have become one in the same.
Here are 12 paintings for 12 years;
The TREES Period: in 2007 I was fresh out of the gate with full days to concentrate on painting, naturally I began with nature. My live/work studio at the time was a 6th floor view of Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC – nothing but trees for miles. I guess I had trees on the brain, and still love finding the character in each tree I meet.
Arbutus Hug – 40×30, acrylic on canvas, 2007, Brandy Saturley
The VEGAS Period: in 2006 I was married in Las Vegas, by Elvis of course! The sheer ‘overload’ and ‘overstimulation’ provided by this loud landscape was putting electric images in my head. The otherworldly shows of Montreal born, Cirque Du Soleil, helped push these ideas as my mind spun like a top.
Cirque Reflections – 48×24, acrylic on canvas, 2008, Brandy Saturley
The BEATLES Period: this marks the year that I FULLY connected with the Beatles and their entire catalogue of music. I was born years after they broke-up, but once I fully embraced their music, they have played consistently in the background of my studio. The Beatles channel on Sirius satellite radio is a revelation, and the narratives of their music, as well as their album covers continue to inspire my brush. The Beatles Period has never really ended and continues to creep into my work.
Passion Gnu Solo (Glass Onion Soup) – 48×48, acrylic on canvas, 2009, Brandy Saturley
The TRANSITIONAL Period: as I continued to move forward with mastering figurative techniques in my paintings, my romance with the landscapes of Canada remained. This year I moved my home and studio into a space more than double my previous. My view turns to lagoon, ocean and estuary, with birdsong and nature at the helm. The greenness of BC and the trees brought inspiration for my largest painting to date, at 48” wide by 60” wide, this piece is a showstopper of soothing green and abstract forms.
Aerial Landscape: Crossroads – 48×60, acrylic on canvas, Brandy Saturley, 2010
The #ICONICCANUCK Period
2010 brought the Olympic games to Vancouver BC – Canadian stereotype and pride was at an all-time high on the west coast of Canada, a place where we usually escape the stereotypical mounties, beer, moose and hockey. It made me think. What does it mean to be a Canadian? I began with hockey; the rest is history.
Goalie’s Mask: red, white & Dryden – 36×48, acrylic on canvas, Brandy Saturley, 2010
As I continue with my ‘Canadian’ comment I incorporate the Canadian flag for composition purposes, on the landscape. Travels through the Rocky Mountains imprint on my mind. Emboldening my comment on Canada.
Poppies For Louise – 48×36, acrylic on canvas, 2012, Brandy Saturley
With a Goalie Mask on the Canadian flag, my initial representation of Canada, my focus turns to nature and a black bear skull on the iconic Hudson’s Bay Company stripes. A good representation of Canadian symbolism in art.
HBC Skull – 36×48, acrylic on canvas, Brandy Saturley, 2013
The CANCER Period: the end of 2014 marked a bit of exhaustion and a diagnosis of cervical cancer, with a radical hysterectomy and lymph node removal, the remedy. In December, I had major surgery. It was another transitional time, and reminder that art does not happen without health. This year changed my outlook on life, and as an artist.
Dreaming in the Colours of Eh – 48×36, acrylic on canvas, Brandy Saturley, 2014
The CANADIANISMS Period: the beginning of 2015 marked my comeback from surgery and aftereffects. It took me a while to get my core muscles back, as I began the year with some very small works. By the Summer I was back at it with this large format piece, at 48×48 inches. I was thinking beyond the stereotypes of Canada and turning back to the landscapes, nature and our connection to the land.
Canadian Subconscious – 48×48, acrylic on canvas, Brandy Saturley, 2015
The REBIRTH Period: a new body, a new mindset and a renewed interest in the landscape, this time interjecting myself into the famous landscapes of Lawren Harris and the Group of Seven. My commentary as a female Canadian painter was deepening, as my fearlessness in art and life had grown to new heights. I felt fully prepared to take on the greats and claim my spot in Canadian art history.
Let Your Backbone Rise – 36×36, acrylic on canvas, Brandy Saturley, 2016
The CANADA150 Period: with the past 5 years painting themes of Canadiana, the public galleries came calling for content. With a traveling solo retrospective, numbering more than 30 paintings, my year was filled with celebration, art talks, conversations, and stories that would fill my next bodies of work. As the past paintings connected with audiences in other parts of Canada, I continued to paint myself into the landscape. Marveling at it’s grandeur, examining it’s importance in Canadian art, honouring the land and holding it safely for future generations.
A Landscape to Go – acrylic on wood panel, 36×36, Brandy Saturley, 2017
The LANDSCAPE AS PORTRAIT Period: with 2018 came another change in life, a move into a new home and studio, my largest studio to date. With this change a need to move my comment on Canada forward. I began looking more to my feelings, expressing these feelings through use of colour and form, while continuing to keep a figure in the landscape. My new, visionary paintings collage different, unexpected elements of Canadiana rendered in my characteristic pop aesthetic. These landscapes oscillate between a graphic realism used for Canada’s famous mountain peaks or views of forest lakes, and the abstractness of the colorful, even psychedelic backgrounds. These new paintings are otherworldly, transportive and playful.
Raised in The Sky – acrylic on canvas, 36×48, Brandy Saturley, 2018
Onto lucky number 13.
The LONDON Year: taking my art, International.
As I head into year thirteen, I am preparing for a new adventure and opportunity to push the boundaries of my painting. For one month I will be making new work at the Royal College of Art in London as part of their Contemporary Art Summer program. It will be an intense three weeks of art making in the largest city in the European Union, and one of the world’s major art centres. As I work on preparing materials for my trip, I am looking forward to connecting with my Cornish heritage. Bringing my ‘Canadianisms’ to London – I am excited about this new opportunity to examine my work, through a British lens.